Macs, Netflix logo, Zen Bound

Published stuff

It was the Mac’s 40th this week. I wrote about my first Mac experiences on this blog. Over at Stuff, there was The Apple Mac at 40 – and 6 of the best desktop Macs, The best Mac apps 2024 from the App Store and beyond, and the nostalgia-fest of 40 years of the Mac: 40 classic apps that made Apple computers great. (Thanks to Lukas for inspiring that in last week’s comments.)

It wasn’t all about the Mac over the past seven days, though. My new column for Stuff is Why Netflix loves adverts more than it loves you. And for TapSmart, Zen Bound was added to my classics series, while the iPhone buyer’s guide made its debut.

Upcoming stuff

I’m still digging into a trio of classic gadget makers, figuring out how to write about their best bits without driving myself mad securing imagery.

Elsewhere, I’m awaiting delivery of a fun controller that reportedly lets you turn even a massive iPad into a handheld console.

Other stuff

For whatever reason, I’ve found it hard to work efficiently this month. I do struggle in winter, but this year has been particularly tough. I’ve ended up working chunks of evenings and weekends to not fall behind, which should not have been necessary with my current workload. My wife has suggested I stop beating myself up about this, given that I’m not missing deadlines and such. But, well, I hope I can fix this in February.

Because I have FOMO brain, I’m trying very hard to not buy a PowKiddy RGB30. It’s yet another retro console. I have a drawer full of the things. But this one has a 1:1 screen, which looks perfect for Pico-8 and Game Boy. Fortunately, my rational brain has been winning the battle so far, reminding me I barely have time to play games at all these days, so why buy yet another gadget I don’t need?

On tech, changes forced on Apple by the EU’s DMA have eaten into the tech news cycle. The coverage baffled me. So many sites had headlines that inferred Apple was making changes (such as ‘allowing alternative browser engines’) out of the goodness of its heart. Few noted these changes were forced on the company and that Apple is pushing back in every way it can. Quite a few folks from the US also appear to be furiously angry that foreigners have forced ‘their’ company to change how it acts. (A notable exception: the reliably excellent Jason Snell, whose piece about the news is required reading.)

Personally, I’m disappointed by not surprised but how things have shaken out. I’ve long hoped Apple would treat mobile more like the Mac – default to App Store only, but allow (after a billion warnings) users to load notarised IPAs on to an iPhone or iPad. Nope. In the EU alone, alternative app stores will be able to exist, albeit with punitive restrictions relating to per-download charges (effectively eradicating popular free apps) and the stores themselves, which need a letter of credit for a MILLION Euros. Oh, and this is all iPhone only, not iPad. Because Apple’s App Store is in fact a bunch of different App Stores.

There’s also the suggestion Apple won’t allow parents in the EU to block installs, arguing third-party stores aren’t compatible with its blocking mechanisms. Which feels like priming a trap, so later on someone can say “See? We told you this would be terrible!”

Bleh. I’ve seen more than one person suggest chunks of Apple’s response amount to malicious compliance. Either way, I think all this makes Apple come across badly. That the iPhone will have a browser picker nigh-identical to the one Microsoft was once forced to introduce on Windows due to anti-competitive behaviour is not a good look.

A pity Apple didn’t rip off the plaster sooner and open things up a bit, and reduce its commission rates a tad. That alone might have been enough to make everyone happy enough with the status quo.

Still, there was one silver lining: streaming gaming will now exist on the App Store. This isn’t EU-only – it’s everywhere. Which means everything from Xbox Cloud Gaming to Antstream could now become available through the App Store. That it’s not EU only makes me assume Apple finally came to the conclusion its position on streaming gaming was indefensible. It never made any sense that streaming music, TV and movies were all OK, but that game streaming was only permissible if each individual game was submitted as a standalone binary. Apple’s news update said the changes “reflect feedback from Apple’s developer community”. I mean, sure. It’s only been four years and change since a bunch of these services launched. Why hurry?

So it’s been a bit of a blaaahhh week. On the plus side, a new episode of Digitiser Level 2 debuts tomorrow. Moc-moc-a-moc!